I don’t like darkness. I know some people do, but I prefer things to be bright and clear. The darkness scares me. It scares me because of those unknown threats that I can’t make out; and it scares me more because of the darkness that lurks in my soul. I don’t think I’m alone with this dislike. There are a host of others who join me in ruing this time of the year when the days are shorter and the shadows lengthen.
I dare say that there aren’t many of us who enjoy having to wait. Who among us has the patience to while away the hours when we have so many other important matters to address? And yet waiting is a part of life that we cannot seem to avoid. Whether it’s a checkout line or a traffic jam or a cue to enter an event, a good part of our emotional maturity involves learning how to handle those moments when everything seems to have come to a screeching halt.
When it comes to our thanksgiving, most of us do so retrospectively. We look back at what has taken place and we feel a rush of gratitude not only for what came our way, but also for what we were able to avoid. As the saying goes, “Some of the prayers that are answered best are those that are never answered.” At the time we may have thought we knew what was in our best interest, but in reality we had no idea what we were asking and we are blessed that what we hoped for never materialized. It might be a good source of spiritual discipline for you to make that kind of list as you “count your many blessings!”
I was never much of a fan of animated movies until my wife and I took our children to see Pixar/Disney’s Toy Story. Part of the film’s attraction was its touching chords from yesteryear of favorite toys and imaginative playtimes, but part of it was how the writers found ways to appeal to our quintessential hopes and dreams.
Prayer, as you know, is a powerful practice. When we go before God with the desires of our heart, we put ourselves in a place where God draws near to connect us to resources that are always sufficient for our need. You’ve surely experienced this divine help in your own life. Now it is time for us to call upon God in similar fashion on behalf of our church.
In a Halloween week it came to my attention that a false email account with my name attached made it into many church members’ inboxes. The FALSE account asked for a hefty sum of gift cards to be sent to me so that I could in turn pass them on to people in need.
It’s been a long time since we had young children in our house at Halloween. But I can still remember how ours always looked forward to Halloween and the chance to don a costume that represented what they might like to be if they could choose such a path. It’s been a lot longer since I was a child at Halloween. But as best I can remember, I was more concerned about the candy. I really didn’t care too much about the costume. The costume was for me simply a ticket to the treats.
What makes the Bible so fascinating to me is the way it invites us to ponder courses of action that run contrary to those of the prevailing culture and how, by so doing, we come to manifest the deeper dimensions of faith.
Preaching is my passion in ministry. While I acknowledge the other legs of the pastoral stool (administration and pastoral care), preaching is the part of ministry that gets my heart racing. The privilege of proclaiming sacred texts in ways that relate ancient wisdom to contemporary settings is what I find most invigorating about ministry.
When I was a young pastor, and did not know how much I did not know at that time, I often failed to appreciate the importance of signal anniversaries in the lives of church members. While there would usually be major league flower arrangements on the altar table commemorating those important times in a couple’s life, I was oblivious to the most significant marker that particular season was for the two persons being recognized. It was only when I noticed how on most of those Sundays the couple would be joined by other family members, usually children and grandchildren, who had often traveled long distances to be with their loved ones on this most high occasion that I began to see how a celebration of this sort was a truly big deal!